10 Best Scanners | March 2017

Well, we were promised the "paperless office" 20 years ago. So how's that working out for you? Judging by most people's desks, not so well. Get rid of the paper clutter in your home or business with one of these scanners that will let you digitize everything from business cards to documents to photos. Skip to the best scanner on Amazon.
10 Best Scanners | March 2017

Overall Rank: 4
Best Mid-Range
Overall Rank: 1
Best High-End
Overall Rank: 9
Best Inexpensive
The travel-friendly Epson WorkForce DS-40 is capable of running on either internal battery or USB power. It also features advanced color and image enhancement tools to make your documents look as professional as possible.
The TaoTronics TT-DS001 fits into any tight space or travel bag. It also includes optical character recognition software. However, the centrally-located scanner makes it hard to capture an entire document without multiple passes.
With its slim and lightweight design, measuring under 12 inches long and weighing under 1 pound, the Brother DS-620 is a decent option for most home offices where space may be an issue. But overall quality of the scans isn't great.
The Epson Perfection V19 is affordable and boasts up to 4800 x 4800 dpi resolution when scanning your high-quality photos and documents for use on Facebook or for cloud storage. However, the glass scanner bed is difficult to clean.
  • single-touch photo restoration
  • built-in kickstand
  • the lid is rather bulky
Brand Epson
Model Perfection V19
Weight 4.1 pounds
The Brother ADS1000W is a powerful desktop scanner that delivers a convenient panel display for one-touch scanning of your business cards, receipts, photos, and documents to common destinations. But the setup takes a long time.
  • sleek and compact design
  • built-in rear slot for laminated cards
  • wifi connection isn't very reliable
Brand Brother
Model ADS1000W
Weight 5.5 pounds
The NeatDesk Digital Filing System transforms paper into digital documents by reading and extracting the information so that you can store those documents within cloud applications for quick retrieval. However, it's quite expensive.
  • available in 3 different colors
  • mac and pc compatible
  • has a steep learning curve
Brand The Neat Company
Model 083
Weight 7.7 pounds
For the traveling professional, the Doxie Go is a good portable scanning solution with a rechargeable battery, built-in memory, and integrated WiFi for computer-free scanning. But the included software isn't very intuitive.
  • scans full color pages in 10 seconds
  • includes a worldwide power adapter
  • has a tendency to jam
Brand Doxie
Model DX250
Weight 2.1 pounds
The Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Deluxe Bundle has an intuitive interface that easily guides you through the scanning process while providing wireless access to documents from any PC, Mac, or iPhone, and across a range of cloud services.
  • dual-core image processing engine
  • very fast 25 ppm color scanning
  • bundled with adobe acrobat x standard
Brand Fujitsu
Model PA03656-B015
Weight 9.9 pounds
The efficient Epson WorkForce DS-520 features a built-in 50-page auto document feeder. Its 3 sets of rollers offer both dynamic skew protection as well as ultrasonic double-feed detection for preventing annoying paper jams.
  • twain and isis drivers
  • optional network interface
  • hi-speed usb 2.0 cable is included
Brand Epson
Model DS-520
Weight 7.5 pounds
Capable of scanning up to 60 pages per minute, the Canon DR-M160II quickly tackles all of your office scanning needs. Its user-friendly design and accompanying software provide various options for communicating business information.
  • simultaneous double-sided scanning
  • easy access to interior for maintenance
  • scanner is energy efficient
Brand Canon
Model DR-M160II
Weight 10.2 pounds

Through a Scanner Darkly

From telegraphs that scan signatures to telepaths that scan minds, scanners boast a rich history in the realms of both science and science fiction.

In 1888, an American electrical engineer named Elisha Gray put scribes out of their jobs when he invented the telautograph, the world's first fax machine. Using a telegraph, Gray was able to transmit the movements of a pen from one side of town to another with such accuracy and precision that it was impossible to distinguish between an original autograph and a telautograph. With Gray's invention, one could sign a contract from the other side of the country the very same day that contract was written.

Twenty-five years later, in 1913, a Swiss photographer named Édouard Belin did the same using a telephone and a photocell in a machine he called the Belinograph. However, due to being the Great-War equivalent of AOL dial-up, the Belinograph was short-lived, stepping aside for much faster wirephoto services that could send full pages one minute at a time.

As the Second World War approached, a battle of engineers ensued with slight advancements in wirephoto technology being made year after year until, in 1948, Western Union won with its compact, desktop-friendly DeskFax.

With the advent of email and the subsequent ability to send digital images between computers, the need arose for a machine that could not only make and send copies, but could turn a full-page document or photograph into a digital file, which could then be sent and either kept or printed.

In 1969, Nobel Prize-winning physicists Willard Boyle and Charles E Smith invented the charge-coupled device, or CCD, a device that converts photons, the light particles that allow us to see physical objects, into electron charges and electron charges into digital values, ones and zeroes, that can then be used to construct a digital copy.

Enter the first digital scanner.

Decision #1: CCD or CIS?

Whether you're scanning old photographs for posterity, illustrations for a children's book, or three-dimensional objects for 3D-printer schematics, digital image scanners come in a variety of types and some may be more suitable for certain tasks while others may not be suitable at all.

Visual artists interested in scanning smaller canvas paintings that could be easily damaged by, or simply won't fit into, automatic document feeders, flatbed scanners are the only viable option. Likewise, professionals specializing in digital archiving will also want to avoid automatic feeders, which can crease, scratch, or otherwise damage old photographs and documents.

Whether you are limited to flatbed scanners or not, there are two major decisions to make. The first, which may greatly influence the second, as we shall soon see, is a choice between charge-coupled devices (CCD) and compact image sensors (CIS).

Where CCD uses mirrors to reflect light, thereby allowing for greater depth of field necessary for capturing things like brushstrokes, CIS uses LEDs in near-direct contact with the object being scanned. By using LEDs, CIS requires much less power and therefore is the only option in portable, battery-operated scanners or scanners that can be plugged in via USB.

Due to the minimal power required for them to operate, CIS scanners often provide much lower image quality than CCD scanners, but they do so in favor of convenience.

Decision #2: Desktop or Portable?

When writer and director David Cronenberg first conceived of the plot for Scanners, a 1981 science-fiction film in which mind-reading "scanners" can scan for thoughts with such enthusiasm they cause their victims' heads to explode, digital scanning technology was limited to reconnaissance satellites and the world's first digital still camera, which was extremely expensive at the time. Not for another thirty years would people be able to scan things, including other people, as readily as Cronenberg's "scanners" could.

By commercializing compact, affordable scanners, companies like Brother, Canon, and Epson have allowed people in the 21st Century to scan, digitize, and share via social media everything from hundred-year-old photographs to original works of art to pages of an old manuscript restricted to the library's archives, which leads us to the second major decision: desktop or portable?

Having decided whether or not the energy efficiency and lower price of CIS outweighs the image quality and depth of field of CCD, the next thing to do is to decide how you plan on using your scanner most often.

While a flatbed CIS scanner may capture every word on the page of a book and allow you to convert that page into a searchable .pdf file, a handheld CIS scanner will allow you to scan a rare, 14th-century illuminated manuscript without flipping it upside down and causing further damage to an already deteriorating spine. However, a handheld scanner may not be able to capture the entire document in a single pass, whereas a much wider flatbed scanner will.

As with most technologies, the choice of brand and type depends entirely on what kind of work you plan to do.

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Last updated: 03/28/2017 | Authorship Information